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Not since Wayne Gretzky ripped Leaf fan’s hearts out in game 6 of the 1993 playoffs have they felt such pain as they did on Sunday night after having a 3 goal lead on Boston with just over 10 minutes to play.  (FYI I had to forgive Gretzky as I married his cousin and it would cause bad in-law relations).  Making Leaf fans more prime for pain was the fact that they have not been in the playoffs for the past 9 years.  After watching what had to be one of the worst collapses in hockey history, I got to thinking about what it took to be great.  What I came up with is that truly great players like Gretzky and Crosby don’t only make themselves look great but they also make the players around them that much better.  Just like great cattle investments don’t only make themselves profitable but also help the animals around them  more profitable.

Lessons from Sydney Crosby

sidney-crosby-alex-ovechkin-game-7[1]Due to the lockout of 2004-2005, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin both entered the NHL in the same year.  At the time there was great debate about who was going to be the better player.  Since then the stats would tell you that Ovechkin has been the better investment.  He has 371 goals, 365 assists for 735 points, whereas Crosby has had 238 goals, 427 assists for 665 points.  However, sometimes numbers don’t tell the whole story.  Even though Ovechkin has won more individual awards (Rookie of the Year, 2x NHL goal scoring leader, 2x most valuable player, vs. 1 MVP and 1 scoring title for Crosby),  ask any NHL player which one is better and they would tell you that Crosby is by far.  That is because Crosby not only puts up numbers himself but he also makes the players around him raise their level of play. For example, before playing on a line with Crosby, Chris Kunitz highest goal total was 26 in an 82 game season. This year, playing with Crosby he had 22 in the shortened 48 game season. That is an almost  50% increase.  This outstanding ability to inspire  others around him has resulted in Crosby having played more playoff games than Ovechkin and has already won a Stanley Cup in his career.

When I got to thinking about how the truly great ones not only make themselves look great they also make the others around them better, it reminded me of a comment that Jeff Butler of Butlerview made in an interview we did with him just before Royal last year (Read more: Exciting Times for Butlerview).   In the article Jeff say’s “type brings the foot traffic to the farm, but genomics and pedigree get them buying.” This further reminded me of  an article I had written early this year about the great RF Goldwyn Hailey and how she  herself may not be a great return on investment (Read more: RF Goldwyn Hailey: Cash Cow or Cash Hog?).  While there is no question that Hailey’s  own numbers alone are  not the highest ROI in the market today, if you look at it from a marketing investment she and other great show cows could be the wisest marketing investment you could ever make.  Now I am not talking buy these animals for the over 1 million dollar mark.  But as Jeff says nothing drives traffic to your door like a great show cow.  Something Jeff should know considering he owns 2 of the top 5 cult following cows in the world today (R-E-W Happy Go Lucky and Cookview Goldwyn Monique).



The big thing you need to remember and as Jeff pointed out in our article is that you need the supporting cast in your herd to help convert that traffic into revenue.  For Butlerview that means animals like Regancrest S Chassity, Regancrest G Brocade and De-Su 199 Chart Topper.  These high genomic animals from big name pedigrees are the ones that help Butlerview’s big investment in show cattle pay dividends.  Key to any of this is the fact that all animals need to be good embryo producers or you might as well kiss your money goodbye (Read more: What Comes First the Chicken or the Egg?).

Lessons from Wayne Gretzky

The great hockey player  to every play the game, Wayne Gretzky, always said don’t go to where the puck is but rather, see where the puck is going and go there.  As we highlighted in our article about the marketing of Glen Drummond Aero Flower and DES-Y-GEN PLANET SILK, you need to see or even predict where the marketing is heading and make sure your marketing and breeding goals are in alignment with that (Read more: Marketing Lessons From Glen Drummond Aero Flower).  As the dairy industry develops, efficient milk production that fills the consumers’ needs will gain greater importance. National indexes are always being adjusted to reflect the marketplace.  In Canada it will not be long before greater weighting will be placed on health and fertility traits, this means you should already be breeding for this today so that your ahead of the curve when these changes occur.  Remember that it’s not only about how much milk, or how many show winning daughters a sire produces, but it’s also important to breed to a bottom line that is consumer friendly. It’s only a matter of time before the national indexes reflect this even more.


David Dyment has kept Planet Silk ahead of the curve by combining both high index, Red Factor and polled in one complete package. Her sons and daughters dominate the top of the Red and the RC list (GTPI). Her son DYMENTHOLM S SYMPATICO is one of the highest GTPI and GLPI active bulls in the breed.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Headliners will get you attention, but their ability to make the others around you shine as well will be what makes you the money.  Sidney Crosby is a great player, but it’s the ability to lift up the others around him better that  wins the Stanley Cup.  The same was true for Wayne Gretzky.  It wasn’t just his own ability to dominate a game that created the opportunity for Gretzky to appear in 6 Stanley Cup finals, winning four of them.  It was his ability to see the play developing and make his team around him shine too that did it.  Until players like Ovechkin learn this key lesson he will never win a cup.  The same is true when you are designing your genetic marketing program.  Until you learn just how you are going to use your headliners to maximize the other genetic stars in your herd and look 3+ years down road and see where the market is heading, you are never going to generate  as much return on your investment as you could.



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The Bryson family of Ormstown, Quebec are following their dream of growing Bryhill International Genetics into a leading dairy breeding operation.

Of course, expanding a farm and growing a family business can be both rewarding and challenging at the same time. Matthew and David Bryson take a moment to look back and consider how far they have come. “The past 6 years have led us to change our breeding philosophy completely, while gearing up for a large commercial dairy environment.” As the Brysons share how they made the necessary changes, Bullvine readers have a perfect opportunity to look at 10 big steps taken by Bryhill International Genetics as they follow their dream.

1. THE FOUNDATION:  Start with the Right Team

The principle of building on the foundation of a great team is the basis of success for sports and business. The team members at Bryhill are Lynn, David, Stacey, Matt, and Sarah. Jason Bryson, a cousin, is also a very important employee involved throughout the farm activities and specifically the nursery where the new calves and high end genetics get their start. A brother, Alan, helps analyze breeding decisions and investments for future genetic orientations. It takes commitment and a shared vision for the future.

David, Lynn and Matthew Bryson at the original homestead

David, Lynn and Matthew Bryson at the original homestead

2. LEADING EDGE IDEA. Make it Work.

David and Matt Bryson describe the motivation behind Bryhill International Genetics. As a founding member of Trans America Genetics, “B.I.G. was used to set focus and aim at identifying, acquiring and merchandising breed leading genetics with a specific focus in mind. The move to a large freestall, the need to adapt to the changing technology (genomics) and the need to be more efficient, means that every decision we have made has led to aggressive moves so as to be better positioned for the future in order to have a business that would move easily into the next generation.” A successful, sustainable family dairy business.

3. FAMILY MATTERS. That’s Where We’re Going.

Every big dream starts with little steps.  There are many variables that impact decisions.  This was definitely the situation facing the Bryson family. “The expansion was prompted by a few different things. First, the business needed to support two families. Second, the previous site had limitations due to highway, rivers and town in close proximity. Third we wanted to offer a working environment that facilitated high volumes using efficient methods therefore allowing quality time with our families and preparing ourselves better for the future.”

4. GROWTH IS A GIVEN.  Build More.

With growing clarity on where they needed to be, Bryhill got down to the actual building. Matt says, “The latest expansion is now complete. There are now two main dairy barns of 105’ x 475’ and a hospital, close-up barn of 75’ x 250’.The milking parlour is a double 16 allowing for more expansion and high flow as well as a calf barn with automatic feeding, just off the milking parlour. We currently milk 300 head and plan to keep growing the herd with the most efficient genetics possible.”

Innaugural feeding in Bryhill's new facility

Inaugural feeding in Bryhill’s new facility

5. A WORLD VIEW: Key in On It

Great product and facilities would be nothing, if it wasn’t meeting the demands of the marketplace.  Dave clarifies the Bryhill philosophy. “We have identified the high GTPI, NM, Polled segments as our key markets. These are to us the markets which shall develop the highest demand for the commercial dairy farm and meet over 95% of world market needs.”

The number one GTPI polled heifer of the breed, Bryhill One Sassy P. Potentially the best heifer ever bred at BIG.

The number one GTPI polled heifer of the breed, Bryhill One Sassy P. Potentially the best heifer ever bred at BIG.


Growing a successful dairy business always boils down to the cows that produce the milk, the genetics, the buyer interest and the bottom line financial success.  The Brysons share which families they have introduced, “The cow families that we are working with are Sizzle P, Planet Lucia, Chart Topper,  Shottle May, Converse Judy, Allen Dragonfly, Brocade, Baxter Carmel, Cosmopolitan,  Adeen, and Dreary.” Here too there is a great deal of thought that has gone into the selections. “These are all cow families that have proven their abilities to make extremes. Breed changers we like to call them.” BIG changers!!

7. GENOMICS. Go for it NOW.  

There is no hesitation at Bryhill International Genetics when it comes to using Genomics. “The top sires we are using are 100% genomic. Leading genomic sires will remain among the top of the breed regardless of rank.” That is important to the Brysons. “This gives us an advantage over the longer run as we shorten generation intervals and increase genetic gain.” Again it is no surprise to hear them say, “We aim to remain among the forerunners.”

8. GENOMICS. The Game Changer.

When you’re developing an international company that is relevant and sustainable you have to evolve with the modern marketplace.  David recognizes the impact of genomics. “Genomics has significantly changed the way we do business. It has made us realize the value of cattle and breeding. While we still enjoy solid conformation, it has created more objectivity in our decisions and, we look more at what that individual will potentially transmit. We take pride in making these top females available and in fact it has also helped our merchandising.  New progeny become recognized on objective, public top lists that are accessible to all. This has led to great contacts and marketing opportunities.”

9. CHANGE IS HERE. Be Part of it 

Matt confirms this viewpoint. “The marketplace will change according to changes in market demand and technology. Consumers will play a huge impact and animal welfare will play a part too.” Dave highlights another game changer. “The polled gene has been a big part of our change as we see this becoming a standard!”

De-Su 199 Chart Topper" In partnership with TAG, Bryhil purchased Chart Toppers 1st Choice Numero Uno daughter for $79,000 at World Classic Sale 2011

De-Su 199 Chart Topper
In partnership with TAG, Bryhill purchased Chart Toppers 1st Choice Numero Uno daughter for $79,000 at World Classic Sale 2011. Chart topper is a Watson x Pine-Tree Missy Oman Miranda VG-86 x Wesswood-HC Rudy Missy EX-92 3E GMD DOM x EX-90 GMD DOM x VG-87

10. GET GOOD ADVICE. Grow With It

Despite their relative youth, the Bryhill team knows the value of good mentors. “ TAG has been an influential entity in our genetic development,” say the Brysons. They admit it is tough to offer advice to others but know that their experience could help others who are interested in expanding their genetic marketing strategies. “Two things come to mind.” say the Bryhill team. “It’s hard to go wrong with high genomics from top cow families.”” Try to identify where the market is going.” “This is not easy but it is doable.”


When you want to know what makes the BIG difference, it really is clear what is working for the Bryson family and Bryhill International Genetics.  They take many small steps consistently and persistently. They are following their dream and obviously are ready to make a mountain out of Bryhill.  That’s the B.I.G. difference.




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